Tuesday. 11/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

That’s enough, petal

Last-forever plastic flowers and silk blooms in giddy colours were once regarded as decidedly naff. They were reserved for the graves of relatives that nobody had any intention of visiting (well, you weren’t even in the will), care homes and the windowsills of cat-loving eccentrics. They belonged to the same category as knitted loo-roll covers.

But now? It’s like a modern version of The Day of the Triffids out there. Storefronts are festooned with cherry blossom whatever the season, restaurant entrances look like pop-up plastic-flower markets and there are fake branches made to look like they are growing through the windows (clever, huh?). There’s barely a high street left where this world of fakery hasn’t taken root.

Perhaps the appeal is the age-old one: you don’t have to water these blooms. But what’s more likely is that owners of boutiques and restaurants think that these florid displays will appeal to the passing Instagrammer. It’s another example of how the pursuit of “likes” can make some things look foolish; it’s already made every hotel lobby resemble a TV set, with their wacky chairs and odd art. But one thing is clear: you should invest in poodle-shaped knitted loo-roll covers now. It would be so funny to post an ironic picture of one.

Diplomacy / Germany & Iran

Deal or no deal?

Yesterday German foreign minister Heiko Maas met his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to save the 2015 nuclear accord. Washington introduced a raft of punitive measures last week and the countries that remain committed to the deal have until 7 July to put together a set of economic incentives before Iran walks out too. “The Iranians want to counter sanctions with a mechanism for trade with the Europeans,” Scott Lucas, professor of American studies at the University of Birmingham, tells The Briefing. “The Europeans will do that – but will also want to criticise Iran’s missile programme, its activities in the Middle East and alleged bombing and assassination attempts in Europe.”

Press / Russia

Bold copy

Yesterday three top Russian dailies came out with matching front pages emblazoned with the words, “We are Ivan Golunov.” The joint splash on Vedomosti, RBC and Kommersant comes just days after Golunov, a freelance reporter who forged his reputation by investigating high-level corruption in Russia, was arrested on charges of manufacturing and dealing narcotics. The arrest has sparked public outcry across the country due to widespread claims that the drugs were planted on Golunov by police. Russia is ranked 83rd out of 100 countries for press freedom by Freedom House; the reporter’s arrest seems to be a sinister – if not unexpected – display of force from the country's authorities.

Art / Switzerland

Best buys

Art collectors will have been mooching around Basel in recent days for the dinners and events that form a prelude to Art Basel. But today, with press previews beginning, the game is afoot. As usual, galleries have come out to the city’s Messe in force: almost 300, hailing from 34 countries, are showing at this edition. Canny collectors will be scouring the show for a recap of works from the Venice Biennale too. Catch the much-fêted Laure Prouvost (who represented France with her environmentally conscious film installation) at Carlier Gebauer, Lisson and Nathalie Obadia. George Condo (the opening star of the Arsenale exhibition) will be exhibiting at Skarstedt, Simon Lee and Sprüth Magers. But while the work in Venice wasn’t for sale, here it’s ready to be snapped up by the highest bidder. For a full digest of this year’s show, pick up a copy of The Basel Special Edition.

Photography / Japan

Negative reaction

Fans of black-and-white photography were dismayed last October when Japanese photography firm Fujifilm called time on its iconic monochrome film. The decision was taken amid a fall in demand: the cost of producing the film became too expensive and more snappers turned to digital photography. But following an outcry, the company has unveiled the new Neopan 100 Acros II film, which is expected to replicate the grainy quality of the discontinued product. Coming to Japanese photography shops this autumn in 35mm and medium-size formats, the film is made from raw materials that have enabled the company to keep costs down. Whether the new film will match the quality of the previous monochrome film will be for photographers to decide.

M24 / The Monocle Culture Show

The RA’s Summer Exhibition

Robert Bound, Eddy Frankel and Ossian Ward discuss this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, Francis Bacon at the Gagosian and the responsibilities of an art critic.

Monocle Films / Spain

Barcelona: The Monocle Travel Guide

The Catalan capital boasts a singular character. Venturing beyond the tourist-beaten track, join us on a cinematic tour of fairytale architecture and independent retailers, as well as the innovative restaurants bringing a modern touch to Catalan cuisine. Available now at The Monocle Shop.

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